Busy, but at least there’s a death ray

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THE OSIRIS CURSE

From the Tweed & Nightingale series , Vol. 2

A pair of teen detectives bops between London and Cairo in a steampunk adventure that would probably make a better movie than it does a book.

Octavia Nightingale and Sebastian Tweed return in this sequel to The Lazarus Machine (2012), solving mysteries in a Victorian London jam-packed with automatons powered by human souls and carriages running on Tesla turbines. Their search for Octavia’s kidnapped mother entangles them in a larger mystery, with missing scientists and Egyptophile cultists around every corner. Each solved puzzle reveals a further complication: traitors, lizard people, rocket launchers—even a secret world. Perhaps the number of threads is too many to keep under control; some characters are dropped abruptly, while one major arc comes to a character-building ending without ever developing through a beginning or middle. The overall mystery is impenetrable, but the set dressing of “vacuum tubes and wiring...tools and gears, clocks, glass beakers filled with strange liquids, and disassembled automatons” makes the right backdrop for a novel that climaxes with an airship-vs.-ornithopter dogfight over London. Purists take note: Among the myriad errors and inconsistencies are copious anachronisms detracting from the Victorian feel.

Busy, but at least there’s a death ray . (Steampunk. 15-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61614-857-7

Page Count: 295

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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Best leave it at maybe so.

YES NO MAYBE SO

Two 17-year-olds from the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, work together on a campaign for a progressive state senate candidate in an unlikely love story.

Co-authors Albertalli (Leah on the Offbeat, 2018, etc.) and Saeed (Bilal Cooks Daal, 2019, etc.) present Jamie Goldberg, a white Ashkenazi Jewish boy who suffers from being “painfully bad at anything girl-related,” and Maya Rehman, a Pakistani American Muslim girl struggling with her parents’ sudden separation. Former childhood best friends, they find themselves volunteered as a team by their mothers during a Ramadan “campaign iftar.” One canvassing adventure at a time, they grow closer despite Maya’s no-dating policy. Chapters alternate between Maya’s and Jamie’s first-person voices. The endearing, if somewhat clichéd, teens sweetly connect over similarities like divorced parents, and their activism will resonate with many. Jamie is sensitive, clumsy, and insecure; Maya is determined, sassy, a dash spoiled, and she swears freely. The novel covers timeless themes of teen activism and love-conquers-all along with election highs and lows, messy divorces, teen angst, bat mitzvah stress, social media gaffes, right-wing haters, friendship drama, and cultural misunderstandings, but the explicit advocacy at times interferes with an immersive reading experience and the text often feels repetitious. Maya’s mother is hijabi, and while Maya advocates against a hijab ban, she chooses not to wear hijab and actively wrestles with what it means to be an observant Muslim.

Best leave it at maybe so. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293704-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Featuring short, punchy chapters, engagingly flawed characters, and a plot that churns ever forward, this frothy confection...

AFTER HOURS

The stakes of a game of dares grow uncomfortably high for four teens.

The Waterside Café is as good a workplace as it is a fine dining experience. The clientele is classy, and the post-work game of Tips run by sleazy (but initially tolerable) manager Rico provides the young staff with biweekly opportunities to make extra cash on the side by fulfilling outrageous dares. The four protagonists of Kennedy’s debut—Isa, Xavi, Peter, and Finn—each have something to hide, and all four try to use Tips’ promises of financial independence and social capital to achieve their goals. Isa wants to leave her beauty-queen past behind, Xavi wants to attend fashion-design school in New York, Peter wants to become a chef (and win his stepsister Xavi’s heart), and Finn just wants to have fun. As the intensity of the summer’s dares increases, the four teens face ever steeper consequences for their choices, including a pregnancy scare, potential arrest for teen prostitution, and being framed as a burglar. An impressively efficient series of coincidences and schemes must be assembled in order to keep the stakes for these likable kids from becoming depressingly real.

Featuring short, punchy chapters, engagingly flawed characters, and a plot that churns ever forward, this frothy confection may not nourish, but it will certainly delight. (Fiction. 15-17)

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3016-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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